Concern as Tusla in the dark on whether it has conducted any joint interviews with Guards on Child sexual Violence

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release
Embargoed midnight 26th November 2018
Concern as Tusla in the dark on whether it has conducted any joint interviews with Guards on Child sexual Violence
RCNI call on Minister Zappone for clarity following her latest response to a parliamentary question from Deputy Clare Daly to assure us that Tusla the Child and Family Agency is in fact engaged in specialist child interviewing where there are concerns regarding child sexual violence.
Asked if Tusla could say how many specialist joint Tusla an Garda Siochana interviews of child abuse allegations they took part in in 2018, the Minister conveyed the Child and Family Agency’s response that ‘they do not collect the information’.
We are concerned at this absence of knowledge Tusla would appear to have of its own practices.
What we know from an earlier Ministerial written answer to Deputy Daly on the 13th of November is that there were currently 12 specialist interviewers in Tusla and she anticipated 29 to be fully trained and available by January 2019. In addition, the Minister announced the piloting of specialist child centres in 2019 to deliver a multiagency specialist response to children where there are concerns of sexual violence. These developments are to be welcomed. 
In terms of the handling of referrals, the Minister stated, on the 11th of October that ‘once a report of child sexual abuse has been screened by a duty social worker, a strategy meeting is held to decide which service is most suitable for the child. One of the available options is a Joint Specialist Interview with Gardaí taking the lead role.’ The Minister further states that these interviews are ‘integral’.
We assume that the voice of the child will be central and critical in almost all child sexual violence cases. Joint Specialist interviews, in most cases, will be the most appropriate and effective way to hear the voice of the child.
Tusla received 770 Child sexual abuse allegations in the first quarter of 2018 alone, (we can assume approx. 3,000 referrals per annum) yet hold no information on how many of these cases were treated as child protection matters with joint specialist interviews subsequently conducted. We have to ask the Minister to reassure us that potentially at risk children in Ireland today are being heard by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
 
Notes
Reference numbers for Parliamentary Questions referred to
21st November 48562/18
13th November 46602/18
11th October 41672/18